Jampaign 2016 III: Rating the 2016 Candidates on Their Music Taste

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Hillary Clinton dancing on Ellen. Image via extratv.com

One of the things that interests me the most about both politics and art is the power they share to bring like-minded people together. Whether you’re chanting at a rally or moshing at a concert, there’s nothing like being surrounded by people who like the same crazy stuff that you do. So, fresh off the heels of Super Tuesday, here’s what I’m proposing: step out of the political mosh pit for a moment. Strip these seven candidates of all of their rhetoric and platforms, and take a look at the crazy music they’re into. It might sound superfluous, but you can tell a lot about a person from the kind of music they like. That’s why we ask that question on first dates. With that in mind, let’s get started. With the help of this Rolling Stone article, I’ll be rating each candidate out of 10. Points will be awarded for sincerity, depth of knowledge, and originality.


Ted Cruz

It’s almost impossible to separate possible-Zodiac-Killer Ted Cruz’s politics from his musical preferences. This is because he passionately insists that his music taste shifted after 9/11. Despite growing up a classic rock fan, Cruz says he “didn’t like how rock music responded [to the attacks].” He does not elaborate on this claim, but simply states that he found solace in the country music community, whose response to the attacks “resonated with [him].” Say what you will about this eye-roll-inducing statement, but what I find truly appalling is that Cruz can even call himself a country music fan if, like he says, he’s only been listening since 2001. There is a very real possibility that Ted Cruz might have the same conception of country music as a 15-year old girl at a Florida Georgia Line concert, and that should scare us all.


Donald Trump

When it comes to music, Trump has a surprisingly wide range of interests (relative to the other candidates, that is). In an interview with Rolling Stone, he cites The Beatles, Elton John, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Luciano Pavarotti, and Michael Jackson, many of whom he counts as friends. It’s unclear how much of this was just name-dropping; we all know how much Trump loves to brag (and lie). It’s not hard, though, to imagine Trump in his dressing room, blasting “Walk This Way” to psych himself up before an interview.


Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio is definitely the wild card in this lineup, which is probably not something he’s used to being. As it turns out, he’s a big fan of rap, citing Tupac and N.W.A. as some of his favorites. I have to admit, I don’t even want to make fun of him for this. A look through his past interviews shows he’s thought a lot about the genre and has formed some pretty solid opinions. Respect.


John Kasich

John Kasich thinks Linkin Park are “really good,” so he is automatically disqualified.  


Ben Carson

If you thought Ben Carson couldn’t seem even more like your conservative grandfather, I’ve got news for you. He’s a big fan of classical music, particularly Mozart. Rolling Stone reports that he often listens to it while he performs surgery, which is actually kind of punk rock of him.



The Democrats

Hillary Clinton

Hillary grew up with classic rock, citing The Doors and the Rolling Stones as some faves from her youth. She’s also made her support for today’s female pop stars known, writing an essay for Billboard’s Women in Music issue where she name-drops Selena Gomez, Lana del Rey, and many others, all by their first names (we’re all friends here). The list might sound a bit contrived, but Clinton gets props for supporting female artists nonetheless. She also says she enjoys listening to classical music when she’s “thinking about stressful things,” which is presumably most of the time.  


Bernie Sanders

Given the many rappers and indie rockers who are feeling the Bern as of late, you might expect Bernie’s music taste to be kind of awesome. Unfortunately, his tastes do not live up to this meme. Bernie told Rolling Stone that he’s a disco fan, particularly Abba and the Bee Gees. Sanders himself has said that he has no rhythm, so picturing him jiving along to “Waterloo” is somehow both cringe-worthy and adorable. The verdict: slightly disappointing, oddly niche.

And the winner is: Marco Rubio! That’s probably not a phrase he’ll hear again in this election, so let’s let him have this.

Mandy Freebairn is a staff columnist for the Highlighter.


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